Ahh, roommates. Sharing close quarters with a complete stranger, having to accept their quirks and habits, and forfeiting private time is a staple of collegiate life. Whether or not you have the chance to fill out a questionnaire, you aren’t guaranteed a match made in heaven when it comes to roommates.
I got pretty lucky with mine. I filled out the shockingly short questionnaire for my school’s roommate matching system and selected a single dorm as my preference. I ended up getting matched with a roommate and assigned to the rumored worst dorms on campus. However, my roommate is super sweet and we got a 3 room double (we each have our own bedrooms + a living room space)!
While this won’t be the case with everyone, having a good experience with your roommate is achievable in almost all circumstances. It’s important to establish an at least cordial relationship with the person you’ll be living with for the next few months! With the stress of settling in, getting good grades, and navigating the social scene, your dorm should be a place where you can be comfortable at the end of the day.
I’ve compiled 5 of the most crucial tips to forming a good and functional relationship with your future or current roommate. Keep reading!
The 5 Crucial Steps to a Great Roommate Relationship
1. Connect Before You Get to Campus
Your relationship with your roommate starts before you even get to your dorm. Your college will most likely give you your roommate’s contact information. Do not hesitate to reach out to them. Don’t worry about it being awkward. If it’s your freshman year, you guys are probably both nervous.
I reached out to my roommate on Facebook by saying “Hey, looks like we’re roomies!” That first connection is important because it sets a precedent for open communication. It’s also much less scary to talk to someone over the Internet than in person. As you talk to them, you’ll get a feel for their personality and will soon be able to determine how compatible you’ll be. This gives you the summer or at least a few weeks to prepare yourself accordingly.
Keep in contact with them loosely throughout the time you have before school. My roomie and I have discussed a color scheme, furniture for our shared space, and our living habits. It’s also fun to find out what they’re thinking about majoring in, how they feel about the upcoming year, and how they spent their summer.
You don’t have to be best friends with your roomie upon first text or ever for that matter. However, it’s good to start off on the right foot with a friendly relationship. By the time you get to campus, you’ll know at least one person who isn’t a complete stranger and they might even be your buddy for those first-week-of-college activities! You may separate into individual friend groups once you settle in, and that’s okay.
2. Fill Out a Questionnaire Together
This was where I really found out the most helpful information about actually living with my roommate. I found a great questionnaire online and simply asked my roomie if she wanted to fill it out with me. We found that we had a lot in common and most likely won’t be having a lot of issues in the future.
A lot of people like to appear nonchalant and cool when it comes to college, but I promise you don’t look overeager by asking them to fill this out. A big rule you’ll learn when sharing a space is that passivity is never the answer. You don’t have to be a control freak, but understand that it’s just as much your space as it is theirs. Demonstrate that you’d like to maintain a certain standard of living before it’s too late. A questionnaire is a great way to establish a partner relationship. Both participants are consulting each other about their shared space and actions respectfully.
Compare your answers with your roomie and determine where things don’t align and resolve this. You can do this once you get to campus or before (I did it this summer). Some things might not be too important to duke out like music preferences. If your roomie likes country music and you loathe it, just say “We can listen to music with our headphones when we’re both in the dorm!”
Be accommodating and try your best to find a middle ground. If there’s really an issue you can’t seem to resolve, involve your RA before it gets to be a serious problem.
3. Communicate Consistently
It’s crazy to me that “communication is key” has been hammered into our minds from a young age, but this is where the most mistakes are made. In almost every roommate relationship that goes sour, it’s because they waited until a little issue turned into a big problem before addressing it.
It is so important that we learn how to speak our minds, especially in a situation like this. Small annoyances can quickly grow into a huge nuisance if you let it. You’ll be working against yourself by not speaking up at an appropriate time. I love Paige’s post on resolving common roommate issues. Every problem could easily be resolved by having a conversation that is tactful and not accusatory.
In some cases, you might need to be the bigger person and do more than what is necessary to resolve an issue. Remember that it’s more important to establish a comfortable space for yourself than to win every argument or be “right” all the time.
Keeping Up a Friendly Relationship
You don’t want the only time you talk to your roommate to be when there’s an issue. You also don’t want to be living with a total stranger! Get to know the person you’re living with. As the year goes on, make sure you’re regularly checking in on them. Ask them how their day or week is going and if they have plans for the weekend. This is also a great time to talk about replenishing shared utilities like bathroom supplies. Take care of each other. Watch out to see if your roomie is doing okay, especially during stressful weeks.
4. Share Responsibilities
Another big issue that comes up is when one person doesn’t pick up their slack. The best way to keep order in a dorm is to make a schedule. Talk with your roommate within the first week on what responsibilities you’ll share and what you’ll do on your own.
Typically, a shared space should be cleaned together or on an alternating schedule. You should always keep your side of the dorm clean. If you find that your roommate is messy, ask to pick a day during the week when everyone cleans up their spaces. Paige has an awesome post on tasks you should do to keep your dorm clean throughout the year.
You should also create a buying schedule. If you share a bathroom, you’ll probably need to buy toilet paper every so often. Alternate who buys certain supplies and give your roommate a gentle reminder if they forget. I don’t recommend having one person buy snacks and food for the mini-fridge at a time. Buy your own food and establish boundaries. Let them know if you’d prefer if they didn’t eat your food or that they at least ask before they take some.
5. Invite Them Out
Opting to hang out with your roommate is great, especially in the first few weeks of school. With the daunting task of making friendships when you first get to college, it might benefit you to have a built-in friend from the start. Have lunch with them, buddy up when you go to parties, or have a movie night in your dorm. If you see them hanging out alone, try to extend an offer to them to tag along with you wherever you’re going. You’ll form a bond of trust and you may even find that you really vibe with your roomie! Forming a friendship with your roommate opens doors to a lot of things. You’ll meet new people through them, it will be much easier to talk about issues, and they can become someone you can depend on!
Having a good roommate experience takes work, but it’s certainly not impossible. Be understanding, be friendly, and be assertive. Don’t let dorm life be a source of stress for you!
Do you have any concerns about living with a roommate? Let me know in the comments!